So, having spent a few weeks in the company of the new Deep Purple album, it’s time for the verdict – and I have to say that, for me, the guys have really hit it out of the park with this one. From the brooding intro of ‘A Simple Song’ to the last bars of the playfully macabre ‘Vincent Price’, the listener is treated to some of the most strikingly engaging music to come out under the Purple banner for a very long time: a hugely impressive and consistent set, which I am sure will endure as a career classic. I am delighted that the band found the confidence to stretch out and indulge the kind of progressive inclinations that have been fatuously dismissed as hopelessly uncommercial within the industry for too long. Anyone who fell in love with the music of hard rock’s decadent golden years will surely be delighted by such compelling epic cuts as ‘Weirdistan’, ‘Above and Beyond’, ‘Après Vous’ and ‘Uncommon Man’ – indeed, the sensitive and dynamic extended intro to the latter is perhaps my favourite passage on the whole album, and it was poignant to discover that it was originally created by Jon Lord and Steve Morse for the live show, back in the day. Even a straight out rocker like ‘Hell to Pay’ makes room for a tempo shifting extended instrumental section, which will amuse Purple stalwarts with its nod back to the old live performances of ‘Space Trucking’ . . . check out Roger wobbling on the root and fifth notes as the chaos swirls around him! I am also thrilled with ‘Blood from a Stone’, a lovely addition to Purple’s small but distinguished slow blues tradition, to file alongside the classic ‘When a Blind Man Cries’ and the underrated ‘Don’t Make Me Happy’, from Abandon. And lastly (for now) I must make mention of the cracking bonus track ‘It’ll Be Me’, which has the very rare distinction for the band (at least since the days of Rod Evans and Nick Simper!) of being an officially released studio recorded cover. With the sheer sense of fun manifested in Don’s rollicking Joanna work and the whole band’s performance, this is a truly irresistible little gem to cherish.
These are just some of the many reasons for Deep Purple fans to be chuffed to mintballs with an album that embodies throughout that wonderful tension between dazzling brilliance and ruggedly unpretentious charm that made us fall in love with them in the first place. Stay tuned for a full track-by-track breakdown coming soon right here.